Sepp Holzer: My vision for a responsible, natural life
Open Letter to Members of the Political, Economic and Scientific Communities
by Sepp Holzer, the owner of Permaculture Center Krameterhof, Austria
The presenting problems and my proposal for their solution
We come into the world, usually in a sterile hospital where immediately, our natural roots are cut. We are then inoculated and nursed with a chemical cocktail and begin our journey into and through an unnatural world, increasingly severed from Nature and from natural processes. Instead, would not a natural birth in the circle of one's family and a natural childhood be the correct start for the future life of a young person? And should not every planetary citizen have the birthright to their own piece of earth upon which they could develop and maintain their essential need to be nurtured and sustained by their natural environment? I maintain that a land reform which confirms these realities is long overdue.
By growing up in insulation and isolation from Nature and our Mitlebewesen, the creatures co-existing with us, we lose the natural relationship to our environment. Growing up in symbiosis with plants, animals and humans, however, enables an experience of meaningful belonging and sharpens the task and ability to act as a thoughtful individual, the task of mastering the challenge of Directing rather than Fighting. By observing the life all around us, our Mitlebewesen, do we discover that Nature is perfect already and that Creation has considered everyone; that everything is in relationship one with the other and that there is nothing to improve. Our task is to conserve and protect this perfection.
There are no "dumb-ones “or "clever-ones “ in Nature. Everyone can find their way if they are not managed and patronized. It is us humans who create the Dumb and the Clever, so that we can then exploit the "weaker-ones". With my projects with human beings all over the world (adults, children, orphans, alley and homeless children etc.), I made only the very best experiences. But do I patronize them? No! Rather, I offer them a space to unfold and experience their own abilities. Experiences of success, joy and honest acknowledgment are the highest wages, the best therapy and also make great economic sense. A practical example for this would be my life assistance project BERTA in Bad Aussee/ Steiermark. It is the first wheel-chair Holzer Permakultur installation in Europe.
Generational Problems - a large gap in our society
Our parents and grandparents languish away in utter boredom in old people's homes. Their children and grandchildren are "dumbing down," as it is called, by way of computer and video games and sitting in front of their television sets. It is an evolutionary given that our Elders should pass on their experiences and wisdom to their children and grandchildren. The children are entitled to this and, with such guidance, can prepare themselves so much better for their lives. We must become aware of the fact that we have been committing a tragic mistake here. However, a Generationenhaus (Ed: residential complexes which revive the tradition of multi-generational living to normalize the challenges of elder and child-care) and community projects would go a long way to help close this gap in our society.
Education - Specialization - Progress - "Dumbing Down"
Education should be devoted, half and half, to practical experience and theory: to every Kindergarten belongs its own food-garden; to each school its own agricultural establishment and to each University a working farm. Those should be the natural places for exploration and practical experience and the training centers for the future of our children and thus, for the future of society.
By way of today's modern, so called progressive education, young people are educated away from Nature and lose their deep roots. If we have been unable to observe the connections, reciprocal effects and symbioses in the cycles of Nature, we will also be unable to recognize and understand them. We will also be unable to link ourselves into Creation's cycle of perfection. What is the consequence? Instead of understanding how the cycles of Nature function, we believe we can improve them and begin fighting instead of grasping them. Your task should always be a mere directing of Nature, never intervening with Nature. Common sense and creative thinking are most necessary.
Our children and grandchildren are "dumbed down" in their schools and universities, and some are lost to us completely, but rarely because the teachers and professors are becoming more ignorant as well. But no, this occurs because teachers must teach a curriculum which they frequently do not even support. They agree to be the pawns of politicians and lobbyists. But where there is a will, dear Professor, there is always a way! But if our teaching professionals depend upon political support, or that of lobbyists, then they can and will not be able to affect change. The theoretical sciences have so removed themselves from practical and experiential considerations that they have become neither comprehensible nor useful to the majority of the population [which they are to serve]. Several integral parts of this essential cycle have already been lost. To this day, neither the scientific nor the political communities have responded appropriately to the tremendous ongoing environmental degradation (with results such as Global Warming). Financial interests and corruption seem to be at the root of this lack of responsibility and appropriate action. The disasters which will necessarily ensue will take on proportions which can only cause the ultimate collapse of such a sick and ailing system.
The contamination of the air, the water and the soil
The contamination of the air, the water and the soil as a consequence of the use of chemical and artificial fertilizers as part of monoculture farming robs us of a healthy foundation for life. Food is our medicine. The farmer is supposed to produce food for life, and not merely to fill bellies with chemically contaminated, inferior, burdened and burdening mono-cultured food. The farmer, as teacher, shall model to his fellow men respectful relationships with their Mitlebewesen, the plants and animals of Mother Earth. Unfortunately, reality looks very different. European Union Guidelines and policies have made the farmer dependent, even addicted to that process. The farmer has been degraded to that of a subsidy recipient - a serf. Premium-payments are there to make up for the restrictions and limitations. These promotions or so-called compensations represent nothing but a partial damage-payment for a failed agriculture policy of national and European Union laws and regulations. "Expand or fold" is the motto of the European Union.
Specialization, modernization and mass-meat production
Animals are treated as mere commodities. The relationship with our Mitlebewesen, the creatures which co-exist with us, is lost. The result is mass and massive animal-torture. Further consequences are the crippling effects upon these, our Mitlebewesen, by way of de-horning, clipping of bills, wings or tails, electrical shock by way of cattle-trainers, mutilation by way of careless ear marking and more. A creature who has been abused in such a way cannot provide healthy food. If the animal does not feel well, its meat will be burdened as well. The farmer represents the living soul of the people! If the farmer dies, the country dies!
Old land, invaluable to local culture, is irretrievably lost through regulated land management. Refinement and processing methods with excellent track-records hundreds of years in the making have been prevented and/or forbidden by way of European Union regulations, making it often difficult for modern Permaculture farms to exist. Centralized, enormous processing centers such as slaughter-houses, large bakeries, distilleries, dairies and cheese factories, etc. are assigned as processing-facilities and strongly promoted as such. So that these centers can continue to work at full capacity, however, the individual farmer's opportunities for special processing and refinement of their own products are hampered if not stopped all together.
The small remainders of bio-farmers were chastised by way of the European Union's reductions of rebates and increases of nuisance-fees. The rest, as we all know, will happen automatically from there. The farmer as a slave on his own farm is usually highly indebted as a consequence of over-mechanization and specialization, exhausted, patronized and overwhelmed by the bloated bureaucratic tasks and chicaneries of an administrative leviathan, and vegetates his life away in total dependency. Who is surprised that his children do not want to continue their parent's path of suffering?
The Solution for all Problems
Social courage rather than "lemming-behavior" is necessary to defend oneself against this bloated, estranging administrative leviathan. Put yourself into the position of your "Other" - into the experience of the plants, the animals and Yes, the human beings as well and ask yourself whether you would feel good in their stead. If the earthworm feels good, the soil is healthy. Plants as well as animals feel good when they are able to live in the correct biological environment if they can, and to live in freedom. You will have greatest success and advantage, if you properly direct all these natural events. Do use, not abuse, the soil. Variety rather than specialization maintains a healthy system. It is your mandate from Creation to direct and not to fight natural events. Nature is perfect. There is nothing to improve. If you do attempt it nevertheless, you’re are fooling and defrauding yourself. Nature is also complete in itself; errors are made by us humans. You have been fed fear - free yourself of it, because fear is the worst companion in life. Relating respectfully with Creation and all living things around you, your Mitlebewesen, you profit more than anyone and Farmer becomes the most beautiful calling.
(c) Sepp Holzer; (c) translation: Space of Love Magazine, #2, January 2009
Read more Permaculture articles: